The juggling and entertainment world lost a star with the passing of Kumar Pallana on October 10th, 2013 at the age of 94. Born in India in 1918, he began performing juggling and singing at a young age despite not growing up in a show business family. Starting in 1939, he became successful performing for small Indian communities throughout Africa where his older brother had relocated. He came to the United States in 1946 and made a name for himself as Kumar of India, delighting audiences with plate spinning, juggling, magic, and balancing. He appeared on the Mickey Mouse Club House and Captain Kangaroo television programs as well as the Ed Sullivan Show and You Asked For It.
In his older years, Kumar settled into a comfortable life in Dallas, TX, where he and his family ran a yoga studio, health food store, and coffee shop. It was at the coffee shop that he befriended then unknowns Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson. The former would eventually become a successful film director and the later a famous actor. Anderson cast Kumar in Bottle Rocket, the director’s first film, which he co-wrote with Wilson. Kumar would go on to appear in three other Wes Anderson movies: Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Darjeeling Limited. He also made noted appearances in the films The Terminal, starring Tom Hanks, and Another Earth. Kumar didn’t forget his juggling past, however. At the age of 85 he juggled as part of his role in the film The Terminal and continued to perform juggling, plate spinning, and magic into his nineties.
Kumar Pallana was honored by the IJA in 2006 as he was given the Historical Achievement at the IJA Festival in Portland, OR. He even performed his plate spinning act during the Cascade of Stars show for the enthusiastic audience of jugglers.